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The original item was published from 12/13/2022 4:48:50 PM to 1/17/2023 12:00:02 AM.

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Posted on: December 13, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Criminal Justice Improvements to go before Voters November 2023

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. – In an effort to improve Spokane County’s criminal justice system, Spokane County Commissioners have voted to place a measure on the November 2023 General Election Ballot that will include funding to provide for the construction of a new modernized Community Corrections Center on the Spokane County Campus. If approved, funding will come from the proceeds of a two-tenths of one percent (0.2%) sales and use tax equal throughout Spokane County.

Commissioners brought forth the resolution, because of the documented need to address overcrowding, inadequate capacity, and to have the ability to offer a therapeutic treatment model. The therapeutic treatment model will include an individualized case management system and re-entry programs, in the lens of producing better outcomes for all involved, especially the community. 

Commissioners expressed their concerns that even though efforts have been made to advance reforms for Spokane County, the criminal justice system is limited by current jail facilities that were not designed for the community’s current or future needs.  

On a yearly basis, the County continues to spend a significant amount of valuable tax-payer funds on the maintenance and capital costs of current aging facilities, which are not significantly extending the life of these facilities. If approved, these funds will be used to construct an improved Community Correction Center facility with the ability to hold more inmates, offer programming and behavioral health programs, realize operational efficiencies, and require significantly less maintenance and capital improvement costs for years to come.   

To ensure transparency and engagement for Spokane County Citizen’s, a team has been assigned to review Spokane County’s detention needs and determine the best composition of jail beds to address the overcrowding, the therapeutic needs, and shifting away from a charge-based system to an individualized case management system. This will be combined with a community presence in the future Community Corrections Center for better outcomes. Several justice experts, the National Institute of Corrections, and justice reform efforts have led the County to this point. Since the jail was built is 1986 for a population of 462 inmates, Spokane County’s justice involved population has increased to the high 800’s with peaks over 900. 

Spokane County has adopted several alternatives designed to reduce days served in the local jail, such as therapeutic courts, felony diversion, mental health crisis diversion, and increases in Pretrial Services along with early case resolution for certain low-level matters where the offenders take early responsibility and seek treatment alternatives. This includes the recent supported release pilot with Spokane County District Court and the Safety and Justice Challenge which has only extended the life of the aging facility.

In 2023, discussion will be held with the City of Spokane, the City of Spokane Valley, and other municipalities, who also utilize these aging facilities, about how they can financially participate in the construction of this important regional project. 

A video of today’s hearing can be accessed on Spokane County’s website or by visiting the Spokane County YouTube channel here

www.youtube.com/watch?v=bw1jSyn6CYY

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